Steelers trade backup center Mahan

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The Steelers today traded backup center Sean Mahan to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for an undisclosed draft choice in 2009.

Mahan started all 17 games, including their playoff, last season after he signed with the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent from Tampa Bay. However, he was overpowered by some of the bigger nose tackles in the league and the Steelers signed free agent Justin Hartwig this year to replace him.

The two competed for the spot in the preseason and coach Mike Tomlin declared Hartwig the winner before the final preseason game.

With Mahan gone, Darnell Stapleton, who also can play guard, becomes Hartwig's backup. Stapleton made the team last year as an undrafted rookie from Rutgers.

The trade leaves the Steelers with an open spot on their 52-man roster they likely will fill today.

The Buccaneers drafted Mahan, 28, in the fifth round from Notre Dame in 2003. The Steelers signed him to replace the retired Jeff Hartings at center and he did so after competing last summer for the job with veteran Chukky Okobi, who was released before the 2007 began.

More details in tomorrow's Post-Gazette.



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